Dickerman's Blog

 Richard Dickerman, former Brotherhood Mutual winner, will share with us a recap of each week from his own perspective. 

"THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES"

July 4, 2017

The race car drivers are circling around their last few laps of their first major race and they find themselves going through so many thoughts.  The first thought is staying focused on the race so that they can safely cross the finish line and accomplish the goal they have been dreaming of.  The second thought is to soak in all they can to remember this special race and all the people who have made it possible.  These last couple of weeks have been such a time for the contestants.  They are coming to the end of the season and special events are taking place.  They are doing all they can to soak it all in, to grab hold of the memories, but at the same time to stay on course so that they can cross the stage with the greatest feeling of celebration.

Week 13 started out with one of the special events that each season looks forward to.  The contestants dressed up and went to a special dinner at Eddie Merlots.  They received the full red carpet treatment.  As they arrived photographers were there taking pictures of them.  How great it was to have pictures taken not in their sweaty workout clothes but with them all dressed up and looking so great.  They then entered the restaurant and went to the back room that was all set up for their special 4 course meal.  Yes they were treated to a 4 course meal but the total calories still were around 500.  This meal was specially planned and prepared for them and before each course the chef explained what was in the course and how it was prepared.  To many this was the first time they had ever been treated to such a special meal.  These meal also served as the starting point to really remember all they have been through and give thanks for the memories.  While the contestants waited for one of the courses one of them stood up and invited all to lift their glasses in a toast of of thanksgiving to Rick and Tina for all they have done.  The thanks did not stop there.  The next day the contestants passed cards around so they could sign them to send to Eddie Merlot to thank them for this special meal.

The rest of week 13 was normal but special as things started coming to a close.  On Wednesday CeCe came through with her promise.  She led the contestants through the type of workout she normally does.  This was the toughest workouts ever done for FWSW.  It was tough and the contestants could feel how tough it was.  Yes it was tough but no one gave up.  Every contestant kept giving their all through the entire time.  They proved to themselves how much they truly are capable of doing.

Thursday was their last true pool workout.  There would be one more pool day but it would be different.  The trainers made a point of making sure they got the full workout for this last pool time.  The waters churned as the contestants kept going strong taking advantage of each and every moment of this workout.

Saturday brought their last long run before the great half marathon race waiting for them.  This final long run was a special one. They went and did just 3 miles of it then went to do the Run Like A Hero 5K race.  Once again the contestants came together to take part in a race.  The race proved exciting and encouraging for the contestants as they crossed the finish line and took part in the many fun activities going on around the race.

Week 14 brought in the beginning of last things.  Tuesday was their last EJ workout of the season.  EJ brought some fun to this workout.  The contestants worked hard, enjoying the special things EJ planned all the while thinking back on all the things that EJ had done for them.  

Wednesday brought a different CeCe workout.  It was a CeCe workout but she didn't plan anything for it.  Each team was assigned 7 minutes of the workout where they decided what everyone was to do and led them in it.  It was a great opportunity for the contestants to think through all they had learned and discovered how they themselves could put routines together for their own workout routines.  This will be so important for the contestants after the season is done as they will need to come up with their own exercise routines to continue with their progress after the season ends.  This workout ended with a very special memory, one the contestants wish they could forget.  The alumni team choose the last workout which ended with the dreaded car wash.  CeCe made a point to remind everyone that she did not pick out that exercise. Team alumni thanks for the memory - not.

Thursday, the last day in the pool.  It was a day of fun but still physical training.  Instead of the normal routine a beach ball was brought into the pool and the contestants worked out by playing a special game of water polo.  What a memory to leave their pool workouts with.

Friday was something new.  No workout was planned.  It was the day before the half marathon and they needed to rest their legs to be at full strength for that race.

Finally the race day came.  The half marathon race was finally there.  Everyone of the contestants were there.  It was great to have the whole family together as this special race was run.  It was a beautiful day for a race and the air was filled with excitement.  The countdown took place and everyone took off on this special journey.  What seemed so impossible 14 weeks earlier was now a reality.  Each contestant gave their all for the race.  They also took in the feeling of each and every moment of the race.  As contestant after contestant crossed the finish lines the celebration grew as each crossing brought cheers and congratulations.  How excited was everyone about the race?  The answer could be found on Facebook as everyone kept posting their joy and memories.  They were all so happy with their accomplishment and celebrating the accomplishment of the rest of their FWSW family.  They were so full of the memories of the race and so thankful for all who helped them achieve this great success.

Week 15 is now starting as things come to an end.  Monday night was their last nutrition class and it was time with a panel of FWSW alumni sharing with them about life after the season ends.  It was also their second blind weigh-in where no one knows if they gain or lost.  Tuesday will be a day off from a group workout because of the Fourth but that doesn't mean the contestants are taking the day off.  Once again Facebook is filled with contestants sharing that they still are going in to workout on their own.  Wednesday will be their last official workout and who knows what CeCe will have planned for them.  Thursday will be the traditional costume dodge ball event.  Then Friday comes when they do their last weigh-in before the finale on Saturday night.  Time is winding down, memories are building, and the contestants are growing more and more thankful for the investment that people have put into them.  Emotions are growing as this season comes to an end, as they complete their last few laps, and the hearts of each of the contestants are singing out "Thanks for the memories."

 

"WHAT IS WRITTEN, WHAT IS DONE"

June 18, 2017

There is a book that contains the journey of the contestants.  It marks off the group effort of FWSW season 10.  The book is the attendance book.  At each group workout the contestants must initial the spot for that day.  Each page of the book contains places for three weeks' worth of sign-ins.  Each sign-in brings them closer and closer to the end of the program.  The initials mean more than just that they showed up.  The initials mean they were going through the training set up for that day.  So what did the initials for week 12 mean?

Tuesday was an EJ workout.  While some went up to the gravity roomW with Marie the rest put on their boxing gloves and started their workout.  The workout was a mixture of boxing the wall and movements of the legs.  Nothing really new, but something really worthwhile for the contestants.  Saturday they had completed their 9 mile day and their legs could use some special training and that is what EJ was providing for them on Tuesday.

Wednesday brought CeCe and she came with something unique.  CeCe brought with her an individualized workout plan.  Something special and different faced each contestants and their parents and husbands played a major role in the workout plans.  CeCe had six stations set up and all the letters of the alphabet were divided out between the stations.  When CeCe said to start, each person had to spell out their names by going to the appropriate station for the next letter in their first and last name and complete the workout of that station.  No shorter nicknames were allowed.  Some of the wives could be heard muttering about why did they married someone with a longer name then their maiden name.  Others questioned why their parents couldn't have given them shorter names.  Wednesday also brought on something new.  They were given two pieces of warning making many wonder what next week will hold for them.  The first warning came from Rick.  He warned them that the challenge next week will be something he has never done before.  It will involve the pool.  What will they have to do in the pool? Then CeCe gave a warning at the end.  She told them to be ready for next Wednesday because she is going to be bringing the hardest workout ever for them to conquer.  Hardest workout is scary enough to hear, but when you hear it from CeCe's voice no one can even imagine what they could be like. Yes both warnings seem scary but all the contestants are preparing to face them with a bring it on mentality.

Thursday was pool day.  There was a new contestant in the pool and he seemed to be a trouble maker.  He started splashing people and encouraging others to do the same.  Wait that wasn't a new contestant that was Rick.  Rick joined them in the pool and went through the workout himself.  Rick's presence brought a special level of joy to the contestants as they could see Rick get exhausted along with them with everything the trainers put them through. Adding Rick wasn't enough for the trainers.  When the alumni came in at the end to cheer the contestants on for the final wall kicks the trainers turned on the alumni.  The alumni had to do wall sits while the wall kicks were going on.

Friday EJ came back with something new that worked their bodies and their brains. He would gather everyone together and list off five exercises for them to do and how many reps they were to do of each.  The contestants would all have to then line up on the wall and when he said go they would have to remember the exercises and go through them as fast as possible.  When everyone completed the set of five EJ would gather them all together and give them another list of five and go through the process again. 

Saturday came the big run day before the half marathon race.  They were to scheduled to do the longest distance of the season - 10 miles.  They started early to try to get the miles in before the humidity came on too strong.  The spirit was great as everyone went out and pushed themselves around the course.  No one complained and everyone encouraged every person they passed.  It was a big family event and the celebration of accomplishment was filled with joy as each contestant finished their 10 miles.

So the initials have been put into the book for week 12.  With the last initials for the week one more page of attendance was completed.  There is just one sheet left, just three more weeks before the end. Saturday was the longest run before the race. Now they start their tapering to allow their legs to reenergize for the race.  Notices are starting to go out concerning important dates and information for the end of the program.  The initials this week indicated another great week of training, but it also indicates that they are coming closer to the end of this stage of their development.  They have come a long way and after three more weeks they will need to carry over all they learned into their own plans for their future.

 

"KEEP ON PUSHING"

June 12, 2017

Any racer knows that as the finish line gets closer you have to keep your concentration up and determination strong.  This is no time to start slacking off.  It doesn't matter how far you are ahead of the pack something can happen and you can lose all you have accomplished.

The contestants walked into Week 11 knowing they were in the final third of the program.  They started getting notifications about things needed to be done for the end of the program.  The reality is starting to hit that what has become a lifestyle to them will be coming to an end soon.  They are seeing pictures of how far they have come.  The last thing they need to do is to start relaxing and celebrating.  They need to keep the effort and intensity up, and the trainers are there to help them do just that.

Tuesday EJ came in with his rotation workout.  So much of what they did was similar to what they have already done.  The difference is he wanted them to push hard and go further then they have before.  They were now in week 11 and their bodies were use to what they had done.  They needed to up the level to continue seeing the success they have seen in the past.

On Wednesday CeCe continued the push for growing intensity.  She had the contestants go through a round and a half of two minute stations.  No taking it easy.  They were to quickly move to each station and be ready to push themselves through two minutes at the station.  The layout of the stations added to the intensity.  They would go from one station to another that pushed the same areas of the body to give them a solid workout.  The contestants would go from doing 2 minutes of pushups to doing a 2 minute plank.  They would go from 2 minutes of party trains (going quickly up and down the stairs) to doing 2 minutes of high knee step-ups on the bleachers.  She pushed them to new limits.  She expected a lot out of them because she knew they could do it.

Thursday was pool day and once again the contestants were pushing hard in the pool.  The ended their pool time with wall kicks.  Some of the wall kicks were so intense that the trainers avoided walking by because the splash from the feet was like a killer whale diving into the pool. The contestants gave it all they had.

Friday CeCe had the contestants spend the whole time in boxing gloves.  With their 9 miles coming up the next day she kept it easy on most of the leg muscles but worked on stretching their calves and pushing their upper body muscles.  The thighs were grateful for the change but the rest of the body screamed out as the contestants kept going strong through the whole session.

The runs this week had a different flavor.  The midweek run groups were replaced with the contestants taking part in the German Fest 5K. Doing that race was a big success as the contestants all were celebrating the improvement they saw in themselves from the 5K race they did earlier in the year.  Each one of them were excited with what they did.  Saturday morning they broke up their 9 miles.  They started it by doing one loop of the course that will be used for their half marathon.  They then got their nutrition, changed their shirts and headed downtown to complete their 9 miles by taking part in the Vision Walk.  Once again it was so great taking part in a community event.  This one was extra special as this was their charity cause this year.  Every year the contestants chose a charity or two that they will raise money for and then as a group seek donations as a way of giving back for all they have received.  This year they went a step further.  They don't only reached out to receive donations but they also went out and did the walk to earn the donations.  It was a great time as a group to be there and really seeing what their contribution was doing for others.  

Just four weeks left and no one is holding back.  The finish line is getting closer and closer.  As they get closer to that line hopefully everyone around them will increase the cheering and praising as each one of the contestants accomplish things they probably never thought they could do.  They have come so far. Let them know how much you think of what they have accomplished and join with them in their celebration of achievement.  

 

"LISTEN TO THE NOISE OF THE CROWD"

June 4, 2017

This week Mari shared some words that many probably had not thought about.  She stated the trainers do not like to come on loud and strong but when they think the contestants have more in them they will come on strong to bring it out.  So what has the noise level been like during week 10? There has been a very high noise level so does that mean the contestants have been holding back?  No, the noise was the excitement of the contestants. The excitement level has been up all week and the contestants have been pushing themselves.

The excitement started on Monday afternoon.  It was Memorial Day, the end of a big eating weekend.  This weekend has often been a trap for contestants of the past where they back off from the pedal of the program.  This year not one contestant gained weight for this weigh-in.  Not only did none of them gain weight the weight loss was still really high. This group is really breaking records with the accomplishments they are making.

Tuesday was their normal EJ day.  EJ divided the contestants around to stations, where they rotated every 8 minutes. There was no holding the contestants back.  The expectation for the contestants was high because it is week 10.  The expectation was high but the contestants stepped up to the challenge. The noise level was high as the contestants encouraged each other to not give up but keep pushing to the end.

Wednesday CeCe brought the contestants back into the stepper room for a full session of nonstop movement.  As usual CeCe kept the energy up and the contestants charged up to meet the energy CeCe required. Everyone worked hard to give their full effort for each minute they were at work in the room.

Thursday the waters of the pool were in constant motion as the contestants were moving hard in the water churning the water hard as they moved their bodies in the water.  When the alumni came in at the end to cheer them on they could feel the heat generated by all the work that had been going on in the pool.

Friday brought in a new EJ.  He came in to make the workout different and fun.  The workout time was a series of relay races between the teams.  They kept moving throughout the time while they had fun.  The competitive spirit shone through as no one would give up but poured it all out to help their team.  The noise level was high.  It was high as the team members cheered and encouraged those on their teams to keep it up.  The noise was also high even when one team was done as they would continue cheering and encouraging the other teams that were still competing. Even the last contestants did not give up but gave their all to the very end.

Saturday was a great day of celebration. It was a nice summer morning and the contestants gathered together and completed 8 miles.  For the first time the contestants actually traveled the entire path that will be used in 4 weeks when they complete their half marathon.  All along the path there were high fives and cheers being shared as each person was encouraging all they passed.  There was no complaining or discouragement.  Everyone gave their all and celebrated their accomplishment. 

Week 10 is done.  The contestants are 2/3 of the way through the program. If anyone was to come in a visit they could hear and feel the excitement and intensity of each of the contestants.  They have come so far already.  It is going to be so exciting to see how far they get when they walk across the stage of their finale.  What is even going to be more important is to see where this excitement will lead them when the program's 15 weeks are all over.

 

"WHEN THE LAPS SEEM TO BE SAME"

May 29, 2017

Can you imagine going around and around the indy track and seeing the same thing over and over again?  What if you were asked to describe what each lap was like what would you say?  How is this lap different from the last?

In some ways many may think the same way about the weeks of FWSW. Is there really anything different under the roof at Spiece? It's Tuesday face EJ, Wednesday face CeCe, Thursday into the pool, and Friday back to EJ or CeCe.  Then there are the week day timed determined runs and the Saturday distance run.  What is there to say to make one week different from the rest.

What is different each week is the intensity and focus.  The body is use to what it has been doing and things need to be turned up to keep the development going. There also need to be focus placed on different muscle groups to help keep them becoming strong and prepared for what lies ahead.

Tuesday EJ had stations for the contestants to rotate through. Nothing really different or difficult it would seem.  There was a purpose behind it though (there always is).  The stations were concentrating on muscles group and doing the exercises to build them up.  EJ used medicine balls to really concentrate on building up the upper body strength.  Josh was working on making sure the lower leg muscles were getting the stretch they needed by having everyone walking on their toes and doing bridges with their feet elevated on blocks.  Katelin used bands for the contestants to walk with tension to work on their leg muscles.  Tina was at her favorite spot having the contestants work on cardio with her fun filled party trains up and down the stairs. Some had the fun of spending the whole time with Mari up in the Gravity room for high intensity training.  To some hearing what was going on they might think it was an easy day, but it wasn't.  It was a very focused day set up to help the contestants for what lies ahead.

Wednesday CeCe quickly had everyone warmup and then brought them into the group room to do their workout on the steppers.  Step up and down.  Step up and do high knees.  Step up and do butt kicks. Step up and on and on it went.  She even added the use of hand weights to add to the intensity.  No letting up, no easy alternatives.  She was working with athletes and she expected the intensity that brings.  The contestants have come a long way since week 1 and she did not want them returning to what they did then.  Squats were to be deeper and leg motions higher.  No excuses.  We are family and each one was there encouraging the others.

Thursday turned the pool room almost into a sauna. The intensity in the pool was so increased that the water almost seemed to be steaming up around them.  No one gave up.  Each one kept pushing themselves to do better than they had before. Nothing would hold them back.

Friday CeCe led the workout but also took part.  She stood side by side with the contestants pushing herself.  She took the gloves and joined them in punching the walls and encouraging each one to punch it as hard as she does.  She jugged with them around the gym and up the stairs.  Side by side CeCe stayed with the contestants pushing herself inspiring all to follow her example and push themselves as well.

What about injuries? What about those that aren't able to take part in the gym workouts because of injury.  There is no easy life for them either.  There is no sandy beach party pool time.  They go into the pool with Kim and Nicole who show them how much they can do there.  They gather with the others at the end of the session and report what they accomplished in the pool.  One day they accidentally did 11 minutes of wall kicks.  11 minutes only committed athletes can push themselves to do things like that.

As they get ready to head into week 10, the last week of the second third of the program, it is full steam ahead.  There is a special bond between all of them that is keeping them going.  There is a high level of oneness that has each one helping the others.  Weight loss is being shattered and all are looking with excitement where they will be when they walk out on that stage in July.  They may not be doing that many new things but yet at the same time they are because they are doing them with greater intensity and spirit.  Each contestant is working hard and making season 10 a very great and successful season.

 

"CHECK FOR ADJUSTMENTS"

May 22, 2017

Halfway into the race the pit crew will be looking carefully making sure everything is okay.  Is the car traveling properly? Is the driver where he wants to be in the line up? Does something need to be fine-tuned?

Week 8 is the halfway point of the Smallest Winner.  How are the contestants doing? Are they on course? Do they need to step it up?

The contestants are going really strong.  There have been very few weight gains and they are still having strong weight losses as a team.  They are working hard and have the attitude to keep pushing themselves and enjoy it.

EJ is showing no let up in his work outs.  Tuesday had various stations and the contestants were made to keep pushing themselves further than they have in the past.  They are not to rest on their achievements but to stay focused and keep up the fight.  Friday EJ used the entire gym to have the contestants do a mixture of marching and full body weight training. There was no stopping but the contestants kept moving through the entire workout.

Wednesday was a big reversal.  It was to be CeCe's workout but she came as an alumni and the other trainers took over the session in honor of her birthday.  For the first 45 minutes everyone kept walking around both gyms except if they were called out to do some special routine at the corners.  How much the contestants enjoyed CeCe always being pulled out and pushed in her workout.  The last 15 minutes came and somehow CeCe's boxing gloves came up missing.  Jerry came over with strangely pink gloves on and put CeCe through the washer for not having her boxing gloves.  It made for an enjoyable time for the contestants but they still had a workout for themselves as well.

You know things are going well when the contestants come up with alternative ways to bring their exercises up a notch.  That happened in the pool on Thursday.  Some of them started doing wall kicks without the wall.  Wall kicks are hard enough on their own, but it was great seeing the contestants bring it up to a new level.

The running continues to progress.  More and more the contestants are getting so eager to let their legs go and see what they can do with a good run.  The trainers are holding them back.  They want to have everyone prepared for their race in the best possible form.  The leash is being let out some but not enough to allow injuries to take place.

FWSW is over halfway done.  No one seems to be pulling back.  The contestants are focused looking at the finish line.  They are working to get everything they can out of each day they have left.

 

"PEDDLE TO THE METAL"

May 15, 2017

Getting to the midpoint of the race is no time for the racer to hold back, but rather it is time to keep pushing further.  That is what the contestants have been doing this past week. Smallest Winner is now a part of their lives.  It seems like they have only started doing this but at the same time it now seems like they have been doing it all of their life.

Monday night the contestants got to do a field trip.  They started the evening by being able to go to Rick and Tina's house for their weigh-in and then head of to the grocery store to meet with their nutritionists to learn better how to shop.  How easy it is for companies to say they are selling healthy products.  The nutritionists went through the store showing the contestants what to look out for and what to look for when making their shopping decisions.

While morning training sessions start at 6 AM Rick meets with a few that can use some extra help at 5:30 to give them some extra help.  While the invitation is given to the few the numbers are growing as more and more are coming out on their own to get the extra help and training to grow in their physical development.  They are truly putting the peddle to the metal to come through the remainder of this race as strong as possible.

The trainers are helping them in this endeavor as well.  They are showing the contestants they are stronger than they think and that they need to work on overcoming the negative thoughts in their minds.  Cece pushed them further with her stations having them do each station for a full 2 minutes.  The contestants were also to hustle between stations as well.  No slacking allowed as she wanted to help the contestants overcome the negative thoughts in their minds.  After an entire session of stations came the final challenge the entire group doing a 2 minute wall sit with no one getting up until time ended.  The 2 minutes started with groans of doubt and can't do but ended with cheers of celebrations and did do it.

Their running training could be called half mark training.  During the week their run schedule was to walk 5 minutes run 5 minutes (half and half).  On Saturday they went out and conquered 6 miles (almost half the distance of the half marathon waiting for them at the end of these season).  They went, they moved, they conquered.

Week 7 is done. Going into week 8 where they will cross over the half way mark of their training.  No one is holding back but all are going forward strongly pushing the peddle to the metal.

 

 

"THE ATTITUDE THAT GETS IT DONE"

May 7, 2017

Starting to think about my summer plans which include a trip up to family in Vermont. Great to see them but oh that drive.  After traveling the same route I have seen it all and now the driving can just get boring at times. How do the race drivers do it? How do they find the motivation to continue to go round and round that track nonstop? Many ask the same question about the contestants.  How can they keep on going through the program?  What helps them get out of bed early each morning when their bodies are crying to get back under the covers? How can they continue to stay on their food focus as so much temptation surrounds them each day?  How can they continue to keep putting their body through such torture that the gym has to offer? How can they keep on looking forward to doing an actual half marathon?

As important as the nutrition and exercise programs are, the key that makes success is the attitude to keep pushing further. This week is a good time to help you understand what the contestants are going through but taking a break from the weekly activities and instead taking a look at what is going on inside their heads and hearts.

The first attitude of success is the attitude of failure.  This is where the contestants had to be before they started the program.  They had to admit that what they had been trying (or the fact that they weren't trying anything) was a failure and was leading to medical problems and defeat for their future.  They had to come to the point of realizing the blaming of others or the offering of excuses brings no victory but further captivity.  They had to admit defeat and determine it was time to take control by coming to learn and change.  This attitude of failure can be heard as the contestants look back.  As they think about the pounds they have lost, as they see the new healthier versions of them in before and after pictures, and as they are realizing how much more then can do physically then they could do before.  You hear it in their words and voices as they make statements saying they do not want to return to what they use to be.

The second attitude is the desire to change and be better than they were.  How true CeCe's words ring out here, "If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you!" and "If it was easy, everyone would do it!" The desire to change and to take on the difficult to make it happen keeps them pushing through.  They now accept that positive change does not come from the easy way but by pushing through the difficult and challenging.  Our bodies want the easy way so it can not just stay the same way, but so it can slip away into an unhealthy state of being.  

The third attitude is the celebrating of victories.  Weigh-ins become celebrations as they see what they are accomplishing each week.  Pictures help show that they are making a difference in their lives and succeeding in their plans.  How often they are reminded how much more they can now do that they could before.  At the ends of runs there is always pictures taken celebrating the newest distance they have traveled.  FWSW makes more positive statements than negative ones to help each one understand the success they are making and the successes that are still to come.

The greatest attitude for success is the truth that we are family.  Anyone who has ever been a part of FWSW knows that the minute you enter it you become a member of a very loving family.  All the staff care about each one in the program and as the love pours out the motivation to do better grows in the hearts of each contestant.  The contestants grow as a family and are there encouraging one another.  They quickly learn that they are not alone but are surrounded by others who will do all they can to help them succeed.  Through the workout you can't help but notice the spirt of support as the contestants seek to make the time enjoyable and cheer on each other to complete the tasks assigned.  Each workout ends gathering together, touching each other as prayers are offered up.  These times are becoming very precious as people are opening up about other things in their lives and the other contestants come along side them to help encourage them through the time. Even as an alumni I have experience this family love in a special way lately.  How closely these contestants were following even me as I went to do my marathon two weeks ago. How much they shared in celebrating with me what I now can accomplish which before was impossible.  This past week as my wife had surgery it was so comforting to have them pray for us and reach out to me to let me know they cared and were there for me.  There is a special family bond that is there to help each one make it through the days.

Yes the nutrition and the physical training is what causes the physical changes, but if the contestants gave up the other things would be of no use.  It is these great attitudes that enable each contestant to hang in there, when the temptation comes to just turn off the alarm, head back to bed, and give up on the program.  Each of the contestants are grasping solidly to these attitudes and that is enabling them to experience the success that the program is bringing them.  Without the proper attitude success turns into failure.  Success comes as your attitude changes and enables you to accept the things that challenge you so that they can change you.

 

"SOMETHING NEW AROUND EACH TURN"

April 30, 2017

Why do people sit and watch a full auto race? It is just cars going round and round the same course until someone wins. There is more to it than that. Each turn, each straight-away hold opportunities for something new or surprising to take place.  That is part of the excitement, the being there to see the unexpected.

This week has been filled with new and unexpected things that the contestants have taken in great stride.  

On Monday night season 10 experienced something no other season has had the opportunity to be a part of.  Instead of having the weigh-in and nutrition class at Spiece the contestants met at Saint Francis.  After their weigh-in they were blessed with a cooking class where they were given examples for breakfast, lunch, and supper.  They also received lessons in using spices to help bring flavor to meals.  They were very grateful for Saint Francis and Olive Twist for all the work that went into the presentations.

Tuesday seemed to be a normal EJ day.  One team went upstairs with Mari for special training while the rest were divided among stations.  There was boxing gloves, ankle bands, and Tina's exciting party trains.  Then there was having to go to the back with Rick and Josh.  Oh that probably meant more sled work and when Rick and Josh get together who knows what they will have you do with the sled.  Everyone received a surprise when they got there.  The sleds were not out.  Everyone was told to take their shoes off.  The entire time in the back room was taken up with Josh going over some different stretches that everyone should do to help protect their muscles.  FWSW is not just about burning the calories, but they are also about doing it right to prevent injury.

Wednesday brought CeCe for an intensive training.  They always say you can do anything for a minute.  The contestants proved that on Wednesday.  CeCe had 10 stations set up and the contestants had to rotate around them doing each station at full intensity for a minute.  After a full rotation they did two loops around the gym and then started another round of stations.  The area was filled with sweat but no one gave in. Everyone gave their all for each second of every minute that day.

Thursday brought something that probably had never happened before in the history of FWSW.  The morning training session was canceled.  Spiece had a loss of power and wasn't sure if it would be up on time for the workout.  Some didn't get the message in time and showed up but thankfully power was restored so they went in and did their own workout.  Others figured out things to do on their own to make up for the absent session.  The power is in their hand to make a difference in their lives and they are taking that seriously and getting the work done.

Friday brought back CeCe and she had stations planned again.  This time there were two changes. The first was part of her original plan, everything was done with boxing gloves on.  Wearing boxing gloves make a difference in any of the workouts you do.  There is extra weight on your hands as you have to hold them out or move them.  It was especially noticeable doing planks.  Wearing boxing gloves while doing planks forces you to have your hands in a different position which puts the weight of the hold in a unique way.  The other change was the celebration of a contestant's and an alumni's birthday.  One minute for each station was scrapped.  In honor of the birthday's each station was to be done for 1 minute 20 seconds.  Those 20 seconds make a big difference, but everyone pushed their way through it.  At the end the session was ended with two sets of wall sits with the added difficulty of holding the arms straight out with the gloves on and then holding the position for 1 minute and 20 seconds.  Everyone did it.  Everyone dug down deep and stayed down for the full time.  Not only did the hold it for the full time, they were also squatting down lower.  It was just five weeks into the program and they have come so far accomplishing so much more than they could do when they started.

Week 5 also began a new aspect of the workout week, Rick's weekly challenge.  This week the challenge was to see how quickly they could do 100 flights on the Stair Master.  They were to do it two times to try to improve their time on the second attempt.  The victory announcements of how well they did have been so encouraging for all to hear.

All the run times were able to be outside again this week.  The run groups are upping things as well.  During the week they were to move up to 7 minutes walking 3 minutes running.  It was so great seeing the celebration as they pushed themselves to keep going for the full 3 minutes.  On Saturday they set out and accomplished 5 miles.  13.1 miles is becoming more and more believable to the contestants.  They are beginning to see that the plans of FWSW do work and will get them to where they are to be.

Week 5 was definitely filled with new things and surprises around every turn.  The intensity was greatly increased for the contestants.  No matter the surprises, no matter the intensity, each contestant met it with the proper attitude.  They pushed themselves even harder and conquered everything handed to them this week.  The race is going forward and the contestants are continuing it with full force.

 

 "IN AND OUT OF THE PITSTOP"

April 24, 2017

There are times in the race the car needs to go into the pits for refueling and corrections.  For some of the contestants this week has been a visit to the pit stop.  There is some pain going on that if not dealt with could lead to injuries that can lead to hold contestants back.  FWSW goes quickly into pitstop mode with them.  They found out the cause of the pain and then determine what training alterations need to be made for the contestants.  Some need a break from high impact training.  That doesn't mean they have to sit out from training.  The pools at Spiece get used by them to be able to get in a workout in a way that will help them heal instead of causing further injury.  Even the pitstop needed a pitstop this week.  The pool was closed so alterations need to be made.  EJ came up with a plan that Tuesday so the contestants were able to do a workout outside of the pool

To some of the others Tuesday brought a new experience.  They have used the famous sleds before but not the way Josh and Rick had them planned.  One sled was set up as usual.  Next to that one was a short one that they had to bend over both ways to push it.  A third one was set up for them to walk backwards pushing the sled with their back.  A forth one had a long rope attached to it and the contestants had to sit on the ground pulling it to themselves and then push it back ready for the next person.  If the usual wasn't hard enough, the level got raised up.  

The week continued with some of the old familiar routines like party trains and boxing gloves, but the intensity was notched up.  Each of the contestants also got introduced to the wonders of the Stair Master with the promise that Rick had something special planned for them with that machine in the upcoming week.

Once again the weather went bad and the midweek runs were held in the gym running around basketball and volleyball games being played on the floors.  Made for congestion but the contestants didn't let them stop them from getting their run/walks done.  The weekend also brought a new fun.  Instead of doing their usual Saturday walk/run, they waited for Sunday and did it as part of the 5K Formula For Life.  All the contestants did great and being part of a race brought a special excitement to their run.

Another great week down and another time of great effort by each of the contestants as they keep focused for the 500th lap.

"100 MILES DONE 400 TO GO"

he April 17, 2017

After 40 laps around the track at the Indy 500 the racers have gone 100 miles.  They are 1/5 of the way through the race but they still have 400s mile more to go.  They can't drop their commitment or energy level.  They need to keep focused and keep pushing themselves to do better to gain the prize.

The FWSW contestants are at that same point in their race.  They are 3 weeks or 1/5 of the way into the season.  Improvements are being seen.  More is able to be done.  This however is not a time to rest in the accomplishments but to keep going forward.  No longer can they remain doing just what they were doing at the beginning.  If they truly are to finish their race with their heads held high the training needs to keep growing pushing them into higher levels so they can accomplish so much more.  Their bodies have settled into the routine of the marches and stretches.  The body is learning to compensate for those changes.  New changes need to take place to keep their bodies improving.

Week 3 brought those changes to the contestants.  CeCe was back from vacation full of energy and excitement.  EJ took the week off so the contestants could have the joy of CeCe all week long.  She came ready to push the contestants to new heights.  Changes were coming and the contestants took them on with all they had.

No longer did the contestants just stay in the large group doing activities together.  Tuesday saw them dividing and conquering around Spiece.  Marie took the Red Team up to the Gravity area where they got to use the gravity machines along with other exercises to make a circuit of activities using every part of their body.  The rest of the contestants and alumni spent the hour doing different stations around the facilities.  One station was once again hitting the wall and doing other activities with their boxing gloves on.  The next station was going into the back room and pushing sleds with weights on.  Yes those sleds you see being used on the Biggest Loser are also used by the Smallest Winners.  Rick just loves watching everyone pushing those sleds.  One warning with the sleds, when you hear Rick asking if anyone smells smoke you better quickly get the sled to the person waiting for it or you will get caught with the hot potato fire drill and have to do an extra run with the sled.  The final stage was with the original party animal Tina.  She welcomes everyone to come and enjoy her party train.  The party train is going up and down the stairs really pushing those legs.  Everyone gave their all and finished the morning knowing they have accomplished great things.

Wednesday, CeCe brought them into the big group training room where they did exercises on the steppers.  Just a slight elevation can make a big difference in any exercise you do.  The room also has a stage in it and CeCe loves getting volunteers to be on the stage in front of everyone "leading" the group in the exercises they are doing.  The smiles on the contestants' faces as they came out of the room were big.  It was a hard workout, but it was something different and many of them enjoyed trying the new things and seeing what their bodes can do.

Thursday was back into the pool.  Once again a very hard workout, but the commitment level of this group was shown as they did wall kicks for 5 minutes straight.  Wall kicks are holding onto the edge of the pool and then getting your legs up and kicking them until the trainers say to stop.  It may sound easy, but try getting into the pool and doing it for just a minute yourself.

Friday brought everyone back together.  It was Kim's birthday and the contestants got to join in the celebration with Kim leading special exercises chose for her day by CeCe.  Once again the gloves came out and there were so many things everyone had to do while wearing those gloves.  There wasn't a dry shirt in the house when it was all done, but everyone was proud of what they had done.

Finally the weather cooperated and all the run times were able to be done outside.  Running is starting to be added to their time.  Saturday the group met together and covered 3 miles nonstop on the path.  Those with injuries weren't left out.  They spent the time in the pool burning their bodies with the training awaiting them there.

3 weeks done, 12 to go.  No cutting back.  Full throttle ahead.

 

"THE ROAR OF THE ENGINES AND THE ENERGY IN THE AIR"

April 10, 2017

There is just something special they say about being at the race track during an actual race.  The air is just filled with the energy of excitement.  The roaring sound of the engines just dominate the stands.  It is just something you can feel and almost taste.

 

That is how week 2 felt with FWSW.  There was a roar of the contestants that was contagious.  Even though they have been getting up early for workouts and spending their evenings preparing for the next day, their attitude was still in hyper-mode.  If they were exhausted as they adjusted to the schedule they didn't show it.  They came ready for action.  Spiece rang out with the chatter as they circled the gym and the pool.  Jokes were being made mixed in among the cheers and encouragements they were calling out to each other.  The energy level just had an electrifying feel to it.  They were like rubber bands that were all twirled up ready to be released.  This week was another week of just walking but you could see many of them chumping at the bits, raring to let their legs go and propel them even faster for the run group times.  This group is excited and eager to push themselves and experience all they can out of the program.

CeCe was on vacation so EJ was on tap everyday but pool day.  That meant starting each session with those stretches with such majestic names - "IronCross", "Scorpion", "Bridges"  and the very regal name - "Dead Bug".  Each of these stretches are so very important to help loosen up the muscles and keep them safe for the workout to come.  Then more marches, and butt kicks, and side steps, and zombie walks - all keeping them moving and adding to the stretching that will help them for so much especially the half marathon in July.  This week added more wall sits.  How low can they go and then keep it until the time is up.  Going for a minute . . . almost there . . . EJ, Ashley are you sure your watches are working?  They did it though.  The stayed down until time was called.  Friday brought a new thing.  That poor wall, it has never done anyone any wrong, but yet there it was just standing there while over 50 people put on boxing gloves and kept hitting it over and over again.  They would go with soft hits and then giving it all they had.  Oh they would give the wall a break as they did some of their other exercises with the gloves on, but then back they came, beating that wall with all that they had.  It is surprising the wall is still standing with all the abuse it took that day.

Oh how great it was to hear at the end of each day the opinion of the trainers.  The contestants are doing good and it shows.  The roar and the energy are high as the enthusiasm and commitment stay solid.

Thursday is no break day.  The contestants are in the pool and the alumni mentors are under Rick's and Elizabeth's watchful eyes (Rick's eyes seem to have a special glimmer of happiness watching Elizabeth put the alumni through their paces).  The pool is a safer place for the body.  The support of the water helps makes things not have as big an impact, so the trainers can push the contestants even harder with the exercise in the pool.  Yes Thursdays are different but not easier.

Rain came in forcing both the Wednesday and Thursday night run clubs to be inside.  So grateful that Spiece allowed the contestants to walk around the courts instead of the smaller track.  So much better on the legs and so much easier as not having to worry about congestion with other walkers and runners.  Both nights had big groups of contestants, family, friends, and alumni.  It was obvious to all we were there with purpose.  Saturday morning out to the SW we all went.  30 minutes of walking - 15 out and 15 back.  Once again the excitement was seen in the chatter and energy everyone brought to the time.

Two weeks down just thirteen more to go.  They will be gone before you know it.  The cars are racing right along and have their sights on that finish flag awaiting them in July.

 

"AND LAP 1 IS DONE"

APRIL 1, 2017

Week 1 is done, no April Fools.  All things new have now become common place.  This week was filled with new things for the contestants.

Monday night was their first weigh-in.  It was the point to see where the contestants started at.  To understand the effects of the program you need to know where you started and see the changes.  Not only did they discover their starting weight they also ran their first timed mile.  At the end of the program they will run the timed mile again to show them how much they improved.  Another great way to discover how far they have come is to see the pictures of their progress through the program.  They definitely will have plenty of pictures to look at.  It seems like each time they turn around Lennart is there with his camera taking pictures after pictures.  In week one alone he has taken over 1000 pictures.

Tuesday morning the invasion took place.  If you quickly looked down on the basketball court from the upstairs track you would think that a bag of giant skittles had been poured out on the floor.  The basketball court is covered with 25 contestants, 9 work-along alumni, 25 alumni mentors, plus the trainers all wearing colorful shirts bringing a great splash of color to the normal court wood floors.  And now the training begins.  Is it going to be like The Biggest Loser?  Are they going to pushing us till we can't go any further?  Will they be putting puke buckets behind us?  So many questions may have been going through their heads as to what to expect but they would soon learn what EJ had planned for them.  First they had to learn stretches to help keep their muscles and joints safe  They had to get on the floor and swing their legs to the other side of their body.  It didn't take too long before the sweat begins to pour out on the dusty floor.  No wonder they got two shirts.  Washing of their gym clothes will become a regular part of their weekly lives.  They have now learned the stretches that will be a part of their routine what comes next?  It's time to march.  Get those knees up high.  Swing your arms.  It is opposite arm opposite leg.  Sounds so simple.  Try concentrating on the swinging of your arms and the swing that would be so natural now becomes a comical mess.  That is it becomes a mess for some, but not these contestants. They seem to have great coordination.  Other movements are given them while they stand in place then they start crossing the courts with the motions they have learned.  That is it. Sounds simple yes?  Well everyone left sweaty knowing they had worked out.

Wednesday brings them soft speaking CeCe.  CeCe is anything but soft spoken.  She works them with more stretches and movements.  They break into circles so they can work with each other to encourage the fellow members of their team.  They also learn other new things besides motion.  They also learn new phrases which they will hear in their sleep through this program: "If it doesn't challenge you it doesn't change you" "If it was easy everyone would do it"  CeCe is full of energy and inspiration.  Her personality fills the two basketball courts that hold the contestants and alumni.  EJ may be quieter and CeCe energetic but there are two things they have in common: they both know what they are talking about and they both deeply care for the contestants and to see them gain their success.  Those two things are true of all the staff members for this program.  Each person involved is an expert in their field and each one has a big heart caring for those they get to work with.

Thursday is pool day.  A day in the pool and away from the alumni mentors (they get to work under the watchful eyes of Rick and trainer Elizabeth), this must be a nice break in the week.  Once they get in the pool the see why there are no alumni mentors. There are 34 in the pool and it is full.  Can you sweat in the pool?  Just ask any of the contestants.  The water brings a new feeling, but the workout intensity is just as high.  It is remarkable what can actually be done in the pool.

Friday brings back CeCe.  CeCe comes with a new heart for them.  She has mats furnished for their comfort on the floor.  You should worry when things are given for your comfort.  The comfort is to allow them to do more intensity while they are on the floor.  The workout was up a slight bit from Wednesday's.  The contestants respond with the greatest attitude which fit the colorful shirts they wear.  CeCe is so proud of their attitude she gives them a break at the end of the workout. As the alumni mentors put the mats away, the contestants are invited to take a rest and have a seat.  Only problem is there are no chairs, they end their first week with the first of many wall sits.

One other thing the contestants have to look forward to is the half marathon at the end of the program.  The program works to prepare them for that as well.  This week their mid-week and Saturday run groups kept the contestants walking for 30 minutes.  It was so great seeing contestants, alumni, family, and friends all gather together to do the walk together.

Week one is done.  They have finished their first lap.  They have seen the basics of all that awaits them.  They have met and worked with the trainers.  They have gotten into the pool.  They have started their training for the half.  Now just like an auto race, they have seen everything there is on their first lap, now they just keep going over it improving and intensifying as each new lap is completed.  

 

 "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN START YOUR ENGINES"

MARCH 28, 2017

And they are off.  This morning began the first workout of 60 total workouts that the contestants will go through during their FWSW training.  In many ways their journey has begun, but in many other ways their journey has already started.  

To some they would say it started last night at their first weigh-in and nutrition class.  Others may say it began with the orientation Sunday.  Still others will say it began when they made it through the first or second rounds of the selection process.  

When did this journey really begin?  It began when they heard about FWSW and made the commitment to apply for it.  That starting point was more than likely a very hard and maybe even painful first step to take.  I know, I remember when I did it, especially making the 2 minute video.  It was at that moment that the decision was made to give up the old ways and turn to something else.  I know for me it was realizing that my 58 years of excuses and finding reasons for my being overweight was a waste.  I finally had to take a look at the real reason for my problem and acknowledge that the real reason was myself and my choices.  Until a person comes to the decision that they are the sole reason for their problem they are powerless to do anything about it.  If they are not the source of the problem, then how do they know they have the power to overcome it.  It is hard to admit that you are the cause of your problem and stop blaming others.  These contestants have taken that hard step and started their engines to go for the finish line and a new life.  Our society can make us feel ashamed of ourself when we come to such a point.  None of these contestants should feel that way, rather they are to be commended for being brave enough to take that step and decide to make a change.  Since you are reading this you probably know at least one of the contestants.  If you do help them as they are leaving the starting line by letting them know how proud you are of them for taking this hard step and gaining control of their life.

Every good racer needs a great team to help them go.  FWSW has assembled the best caring team of coaches, nutritionists, behavioralists, and mentors. Spiece is providing a great facility and Three Rivers Running Company is helping provide the running shoes they need.  They are receiving all they need from a team. In my future articles I will share stories of some of the ways this support team is helping the contestants along the way.  

Every good racer needs something else.  They need a good fan base to cheer them on.  When things get rough (and they will) and the temptation to quit comes upon them (which it will) the one thing that can help them through will be fans cheering and encouraging them on.  Please, please, please by a part of that fan group that these contestants need.  Read their blogs and comment on them to encourage them.  Read my articles to understand what they are going through.  Send them notes and other forms of encouragement.  Let them know they are not alone but that they have many supporters cheering them on and who are so very proud of them.  They need each of you so much.

There I am finished with my soap box.  I promise no more soap boxes but interesting and encouraging stories of the life of a FWSW contestant.  Join these contestants on their journey and help them celebrate victory when they cross the finish line this July.